The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit is Likely to be Extended

Of late, all the buzz in the real estate industry -- and in much of the overall news, in fact -- has been about the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. Credited (no pun intended) with giving the national real estate market a much-needed shot in the arm, the credit is scheduled, at the time of this writing, to go to a vote before Congress in the next few hours, and is likely to be not just extended, but expanded to benefit some current homeowners, as well. There’s no question that the national economy is in a time of crisis. There’s no question that the real estate industry lies near the very heart of that crisis, and we all want to see its recovery.

A large part of the Federal Government’s economic stimulus package, the FTHTC is set to expire at the end of this month. Any real estate transaction that closes prior to midnight on November 30th, and whose buyers are first-time (meaning that they haven’t owned a home in 3 or more years) buyers, qualifies to receive an $8000 tax credit.

Certainly, many buyers have taken advantage of it (they would have been crazy not to).

Now, the government is set to vote on an expansion of the tax credit. The credit would not just be extended into next year, its terms would extend to homeowners who’ve been in their homes for five or more years (provided that they would be moving “up”), and would apply to buyers with higher incomes.

There are two other superstars playing roles in the real estate market right now: record-low interest rates and low, low, low home prices. Those two characters alone carry a huge amount of influence (as well they should) and should be the things motivating buyers -- both new and experienced -- to buy homes.

An extension of the Credit will no doubt magnify the impact of these forces.